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"Made & Sold by A. LAMB. New York"
Length overall 14 inches; needle 4.875 inches
Anthony Lamb (1703-1784) was born in London, and apprenticed with Henry Carter, a maker of mathematical instruments. In 1724, having been convicted of being an accomplice in a
burglary, Lamb was banished to the American colonies. He arrived in Annapolis, Maryland in
December 1724. In December 1730, Lamb advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette (Benjamin Franklin's newspaper) that he was a "Mathematical Instrument-maker, from London, now living in New-York, near the new Dock, at the Sign of the Compass and the Quadrant." Although he offered "all Sorts of Instruments for Sea or Land," the compass on his trade sign was probably a
navigational instrument. Lamb soon recognized the importance of the American land, and by
1745 he was trading At the Sign of the Quadrant and Surveying-Compass. In a handbill issued
in the early 1750s, Lamb offered "all sorts of Surveying Compasses, with Agate capt Needles."
This brass compass was probably made in the 1750s, and is thus one of the earliest instruments of this sort made in America. Following English practice, the face reads clockwise, and the bar is narrow and relatively flimsy. The vertical sights fold down when not in use.
David Rittenhouse would begin making surveyor's compasses with counterclockwise faces, and
sturdy baseplates in the 1760s.
Ref: Silvio A. Bedini, At the Sign of the Compass and Quadrant. the Life and Times of Anthony Lamb (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1984).
Keuffel & Esser